There will be a new Junior on the Sprint Cup circuit in 2013.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., from Olive Branch, will replace Matt Kenseth behind the wheel of the No. 17 Ford next season for Roush Fenway Racing. Story here. That news dropped Tuesday morning, and it's all the more unusual because Kenseth is the current Sprint Cup points leader. Analysis here and here.
Bottom line? Like most things in life, it has to do with money.
The move could be compared to a pro baseball team moving a successful veteran pitcher for an up-and-coming rookie. Roush will hope that Kenseth can win the Cup title, then they'll turn the keys over to the 24-year-old Stenhouse.
Stenhouse is the defending Nationwide Series champion. That ride will likely get turned over to another young driver, surprise 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.
Reached in Olive Branch by ESPN's Marty Smith, Stenhouse said: "It's a great opportunity for me," while calling it "bittersweet" because of his relationship with Kenseth. Story here.
As if the 2012 NASCAR season needed more compelling story lines, this move by Roush deliers another doozy. If Kenseth fails to seal the deal on the Cup title in the fall, the way this played out will be second-guessed all winter.